October 2012      

Team Tisser Foundation (TTF) is a non-profit corporation founded by Doron M. Tisser and his wife Laurie. TTF raises money for various charitable purposes and does not focus on any one charity or charitable purpose. The goal is to raise as much money as possible to "Help Make A Difference" by "Improving Life for Others." TTF has made donations to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Challenged Athletes Foundation, as well as charities helping people affected by natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the Tsunamis. Since 2000, TTF has donated over $250,000 to over 40 different charities. Friends and clients generally donate money to TTF to support Doron's participation in triathlons and marathons. If you would like more information about TTF, please contact Doron at doron@tisserlaw.com, or visit www.teamtisser.org

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Doron M. Tisser

Doron M. Tisser has specialized in estate and gift planning, tax planning, trust and probate administration, charitable giving, buy-sell agreements and related areas for over 30 years. Mr. Tisser is one of less than 100 attorneys in California who has been designated as both a Certified Specialist in Probate, Estate Planning and Trust Law, and as a Certified Specialist in Taxation Law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. He was chosen by his peers as a Super Lawyer for 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 for Southern California, and enjoys an "a.v." rating by Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, which is the highest possible rating and is based on ethical considerations and legal skills. Mr. Tisser has published over 65 articles and chapters in books on various estate and tax planning subjects and is a frequent speaker and lecturer at estate and tax planning seminars. Mr. Tisser competes in triathlons, including Ironman races, and raises money for charities through Team Tisser Foundation, a non-profit corporation he co-founded with his wife Laurie.


A trustee is someone selected to handle the assets of a trust (usually an irrevocable trust) for the benefit of the trust's beneficiaries. The trustee's job is to take control of the assets, invest the assets, and make distributions to the beneficiaries in accordance with the trust document.

While this may not seem like a difficult job, it is generally thankless and with little upside for the trustee other than knowing he or she was picked by the person establishing the trust as someone that can be trusted. Yes, the trustee is usually entitled to trustee fees, but these are generally small compared to how much work and responsibility the trustee must take on.

There is, however, a large downside: if you do not do your job properly, the beneficiaries will sue you.

What, then, should a person be doing as a trustee to make sure he or she is properly carrying out his or her job? Here are just a few items to consider.

  1. The trustee should hire a qualified attorney to make sure his or her duties under the trust and under the Probate Code are being properly carried out. This is by far the most important action a trustee can take.
    The attorneys fees will be paid by the trust, but a trustee should never try to save the trust money by doing things without legal advice. The costs associated with defending the trustee against a lawsuit far exceed the cost to make sure things are done correctly to begin with.

  2. The trustee should provide annual accountings to the beneficiaries, which tell them what assets the trust had at the start of the year, how much was earned by the trust, how much was spent, who it was spent on, and how much is left.

    If the accounting is prepared in the specific format provided for under the Probate Code, the beneficiaries will have a specific time within which to object to actions taken by the trustee and sue the trustee for something done improperly. If the accounting is not done properly, the beneficiaries will not have a specific time within which to object and sue, which means the trustee could have liability for many years.

  3. The trustee should hire a qualified person to manage and invest the trust’s assets. It is the trustee's potential liability for improper management; so the trustee must review the investments from time to time to be sure the investments are productive.

  4. The trustee should hire an accountant to make sure all the tax returns are properly filed and all taxes are paid.

  5. The trustee should be sure that all required distributions are made to the beneficiaries in accordance with the trust document, and should review the purposes for which discretionary distributions may be made.

  6. The trustee should keep each trust's assets segregated from other trusts' assets. No trust assets should be commingled with any other trust’s assets or with the trustee’s personal assets.

While the above may seem logical, trustees are not properly administering trusts in the vast majority of cases. This has led to a tremendous increase in challenges against trustees and trust litigation.

With this in mind, the trustee should never try to cut corners. He or she must take all actions required under the trust document and the Probate Code in order to properly carry out his or her duties under the trust and avoid being sued by the beneficiaries.
Tisser Law Group, A Professional Corporation | 5425 Farralone Ave, Suite 100 | Woodland Hills | CA | 91367

doron@tisserlaw.com – Doron M. Tisser, Esq.
brian@tisserlaw.com – Brian H. Standing, Esq.
armine@tisserlaw.com – Armine Bazikyan, Esq.
judy@tisserlaw.com – Judy Schwarz, Paralegal

erica@tisserlaw.com – Erica Opperman, Paralegal

laura@tisserlaw.com – Laura Stein, Admin. Director
amber@tisserlaw.com – Amber McBride, Practice Coordinator
heather@tisserlaw.com – Heather Lanet, Admin. Assistant
zion@tisserlaw.com – Zion Dungo, Admin. Assistant
jesus@tisserlaw.com – Jesus Esteves, Admin. Assistant  
This Newsletter is intended to provide legal information only; legal information is not legal advice and you should consult with qualified legal counsel prior to implementing any estate planning. The transmission or receipt of information to or from this Newsletter is not intended to create, and does not create or constitute, an attorney-client relationship. No portion of this Newsletter may be reproduced or used in any manner other than for the private information of the reader without the express written consent of Tisser Law Group, A Professional Corporation. The testimonials throughout this Newsletter were provided by actual clients. To maintain their privacy their names may have been abbreviated. Please note that testimonials do not warrant, guarantee or predict your particular results. Copyright Tisser Law Group, A Professional Corporation 2010. All Rights Reserved.